Buying a franchise will ensure that you will be able to survive the initial teething troubles of the business and make it big in the long run.
Whether it is human or veterinary medicine requirement, medical supplies are a necessity for both the fields. Working as a medical supplies retailer is a good way to get associated with the health care industry. This business is one such venture where you will have to keep abreast with the latest developments in the medical equipment and supplies domain.
You will have to upgrade your stock to keep up with these innovations in the medical industry from time to time to ensure that you get a good profit margin. However, you must get a medical supplies business plan in place to get your venture moving in the right direction.
Conduct Market Research
You must explore the possibility of starting the business by conducting a market research about it. Speak to people who are already in this business to understand about the investment, response, prospects, profit margins, risks involved, etc. You must understand whether undertaking such a venture in your locality will prove profitable. Study the prevalent competition in your area, and decide your strategy. Learn how your competitors are making money, and check which products have maximum demand. Check the price they are quoting for these products, as it will form the base of your own pricing policy. Study how this business will fare in the years to come before plunging into it.
Arrange for Funds
Starting this business is usually a very costly affair. This is because the supplies always come with an upgraded medical technology. The level of investment will also depend on the type of products you intend to sell. A product with critical technology will prove to be a costlier investment than that which is a part of normal medical supplies. Try to avail for an SBA loan or a bank loan to support this venture through its inception stage. Good returns on this business are guaranteed. Hence, in most cases, you will be able to repay the loan easily.
Identify Your Target Market
Know your target market well. It can be dentists, midwives, baby boomers, medical facilities, etc. You have a lot of choice when it comes to such a business. You can either choose a particular niche or have an all-purpose store. For example, you can either supply only medical supplies meant for dental procedures or you can offer all the supplies required for medical purposes including surgical equipment, gauze and band aids, syringes and needles, wheelchairs, bath seats, arm slings, etc. Understand the requirements of your target market and cater to them. It is always better to start with a niche and then expand the business.
Register Your Business
You will have to register your business with the IRS for your tax formalities. You may also need to consult your state and local authorities to understand if you need licenses to sell a particular type of medical equipment. Hire a professional to look after your accounts and tax requirement. You may also have to register your business as "doing business as" and also get your Employer Identification Number. Apart from this, you will also have to get the necessary permit for carrying out a retail or wholesale business.
Scout for a Location
You will have to search for a place based on the type of business you would like to set up. It is advisable that you hire an outlet initially as buying a new place will blow up your budget. Ensure that the place is clean and has rooms to store your stock. If you are planning to have a retail store, you will have to set up a small- or medium-sized store. However, if you intend to sell it on a wholesale basis, you will require a larger facility. Also, if you want to sell the medical supplies directly to the consumers, it will have to be located near a health care facility. If you intend to sell bigger supplies like wheelchairs, you will require a lot of space, so plan accordingly. If you are storing supplies that can get contaminated due to change in temperature, you will have to hire a warehouse which will be temperature controlled for storing them. You also have an option of delivering the products directly from the manufacturer to the end user. However, you need to have an effective supply chain management for this to work.
You will have to order the supplies from a distributor or vendor, if you are not manufacturing them yourself. You will have to decide about the quantity of products and their cost to be paid to the distributor or manufacturer. Remember, the difference between the price at which you buy and sell to the consumers is going to be your profit. Also, you may incur some cost for transportation, tax, and packaging the supplies. Hence, decide the best price accordingly. Source your products from reliable manufacturers as faulty products may affect the patient's health. In case of any complaints regarding the products, you will have to speak to the manufacturer and replace them immediately. Try to keep the products in labeled compartments in a large closet for easy identification.
Hire Capable Employees
In the initial days of the business, hiring a helping hand will become very costly for you. Therefore, try to run a one-man show, until the time the business picks up. After that, you can recruit people on a part-time or temporary basis. This will help you with the management of the business, maintaining and updating stock, replacing products, handling the cash counter, etc. However, ensure that you hire an honest and dedicated person, who will not cause an inventory fraud behind your back. As your business will expand, it is advisable that you hire more employees to help you out. It will be necessary to train these employees. You will have to impart training about where the products are located, dealing with customers, and encouraging them to buy more. Try to install an inventory management software to ease the stock maintenance process.
Promote Your Business
Like all businesses, even this one needs to be promoted to gain maximum profits. You can use the social media platform to speak about your venture. Creating a wellness newsletter for the local people every month will also be a good way to advertise. Once the business picks up, try to sponsor health care events with the local community, church, NGO, etc., to gain good mileage. You can aim at sponsoring medical awareness programs. You can also utilize the radio and television medium to reach many people. Use other print medias, like newspaper ads, flyers, posters, etc., to reach your target market.
Network and Expand Business
This is one business that can expand really rapidly if you have good networking skills. Offer incentive and referral programs for medical professionals for routing patients to your business. You can also have contracts with them for monthly medical supplies. Offer them good discounts and quality services. This will encourage them to refer your company to their colleagues. Perks like free delivery, schemes, etc., will also help create goodwill. Try to sponsor medical fairs and gatherings as this will also give you a platform to network with a number of people. This way, slowly and steadily, you will be able to increase your business. After a few days, start another store in a new locality. You can then proceed to start a chain of stores.
This is, indeed, a business that will continue to be in demand irrespective of the economic conditions. Now that you know how to start a medical supplies business, implement these steps for having a successful venture.